- Title: Albanians protest law allowing refuse imports for recycling
- Date: 3rd October 2016
- Summary: CAPE OF RODON, ALBANIA (APRIL 22, 2010) (REUTERS) BEACH COVERED IN PLASTIC BOTTLES AND OTHER KINDS OF GARBAGE/ ADRIATIC SEA PLASTIC CONTAINER FLOATING IN THE WATER PEOPLE AT BEACH GARBAGE AT BEACH
- Embargoed: 18th October 2016 12:44
- Keywords: Albania waste Tirana protest
- Location: TIRANA AND CAPE OF RODON, ALBANIA
- City: TIRANA AND CAPE OF RODON, ALBANIA
- Country: Albania
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00252GA0C9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PICTURES AS INCOMING
Several thousand Albanians protested in the capital Tirana on Saturday (October 1) to demand that Prime Minister Edi Rama scraps the law allowing waste imports for recycling that has revived fears the country could become Europe's refuse dump.
Rama angered environmentalists last week by reinstating the legislation in a bid to prop up the country's flagging recycling industry just three years after he repealed a similar law proposed by the previous government soon after coming to power.
Environmental activists say the law will let wealthy neighbouring countries such as Italy send dangerous and polluting waste to be destroyed in Albania, one of Europe's poorest nations.
Walking behind a poster saying "Enough with our own garbage", protesters waved red cards at Rama's office and threw black rubbish sacks with his photo printed on them. Others had sprayed the names of Rama and other government ministers on bins throughout the capital.
"The import and processing of waste for it to be exported is totally unacceptable for Albania's development strategy which is tourism, agriculture and other fields which are friendly to the environment," Lavdosh Ferruni, an environmentalist told Reuters.
Rama has defended the law, which passed parliament with a wafer-thin majority, stressing that imported waste of plastic, paper and wood will be recycled and that incineration and landfill are banned. He says only recycling plants can get licenses to import waste and customs will check all shipments.
Albania's Environment Minister Lefter Koka highlighted the importance of having the recycling industry working at its full capacity.
"Waste is a financial income. We are not wealthy enough to reject it. So Albanian waste will go to the recycling industry and, if needed, we will import (waste) to make it work at full capacity. The aim of the Albanian government is to increase exports and not imports. We want money to come to Albania, not to leave," he said.
Successive post-Communist governments have tried to prop up the recycling industry over the past 25 years and many Albanians fear lax controls will let in dangerous waste in a country plagued by corruption and poor infrastructure.
Three years ago, widespread discontent forced Rama to back down on his promise to the United States to allow Syria's chemical weapons arsenal to be dismantled in Albania.
The new law comes as the recycling industry complains it cannot survive unless it imports though it now recycles 17 percent of waste in the country, up from 10 percent in 2013, according to Rama.
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